Ben & Jerry’s has not only built a brand around their standout ice cream flavors, but also from the strong sociocultural stances they continue to take. Their latest move is no exception.
The company recently announced their participation in Unlock Potential, an employment program for young people who are at greatest risk of incarceration. According to a news release, Unlock Potential‘s mission is to use hiring to advance racial equity, recruit the next generation of corporate leaders, and help disrupt the poverty-to-prison pipeline.
“The importance of second-chance employment efforts cannot be overstated. But hiring individuals when they’re released from prison isn’t enough – we have to be taking steps to stop them ending up there in the first place,” said Matthew McCarthy, CEO of Ben & Jerry’s. “Data show that meaningful employment opportunities are one of the most impactful ways to prevent future incarceration. Unlock Potential will create those first chances.”
The sentencing project reported that Black youth are more than four times as likely to be detained or committed in juvenile facilities as their white counterparts. Data also showed that in 2015, Black youth under the age of 25 had an incarceration rate that was 5.0 times as high as other groups.
“Unlock Potential is a critical component in the advancement of our Racial Equity work,” said Allie Reid, Ben & Jerry’s Sr. Retail Racial Equity and Inclusion Manager in a news release. “Creating meaningful career opportunities for Black and Brown at-risk youth supports skill development and economic mobility in the communities we serve and exist in.”
Per a news release, Unlock Potential plans to focus on the 4.4 million Americans identified as “disconnected youth”: individuals aged 16 to 24 who are neither in education nor employment.
“Unlock Potential will focus on a subset who have experienced one or more of the following additional risk factors for incarceration: an incarcerated parent, sex or human trafficking, the juvenile justice system, or the foster care system,” per a statement.